Crime

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Could Racially Motivated 911 Calls Become Hate Crimes?

Posted By on Sat, Jun 27, 2020 at 4:37 PM

A California proposal could make racially motivated 911 calls a hate crime. - ILLUSTRATION BY ANNE WERNIKOFF FOR CALMATTERS; ELEMENTS VIA ISTOCK
  • Illustration by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters; elements via iStock
  • A California proposal could make racially motivated 911 calls a hate crime.

Barbecuing at Lake Merritt in Oakland. Selling water without a permit. Both instances in which a Black person was doing something deemed criminal by a white person. Both instances in which a white person called the police.

Now, as racial tensions continue to flare as the nation protests the death of George Floyd and others, a California lawmaker plans to introduce legislation that would make discriminatory 911 calls a hate crime, joining a handful of states in pushing to criminalize emergency calls. Three states — New York, Oregon and Washington — have recently enacted new laws.

California’s proposal “would provide multiple pathways for justice for victims of racially weaponized 911 calls,” said Assemblyman Rob Bonta, an Alameda Democrat and the bill’s author.

He said calling the police when no crime has occurred can be “incredibly dangerous” for victims since officers have wide latitude to detain people in ways that can quickly escalate. The bill, however, isn’t in print yet. Bonta says he is still formulating the circumstances in which Californians may be punished for bias.

Similar instances of racially motivated 911 calls have occurred across the country. In May, a white woman walking her dog in Central Park called the police on a Black birdwatcher after he asked her to leash her dog.

“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” said Amy Cooper, the dog walker, during the recorded incident. The governor of New York signed legislation making these types of 911 calls a crime.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta says 911 calls have been “weaponized” against Black people and Californians need to understand that’s “unacceptable” behavior.

In California, making a false police call is a misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine and up to a year in county jail. But there are currently no other protections for those on the receiving end of a racially motivated police call.

In 2017, there were 28.1 million calls to 911 in California, the Orange County Register reported. And the Los Angeles area handled 8.5 million calls that year alone. The California Highway Patrol is largely responsible for 911 calls made on cell phones and often directs emergency calls to the appropriate authorities. Who would be responsible for tracking these types of calls remains unclear. As demands to “defund the police” continue to grow, questions remain about a larger police role. The California Police Chiefs Association had no comment on Bonta’s proposal.

For an instance to qualify as a hate crime, there has to be proof that the victim was targeted because they belonged to a protected group. Bonta said proving these calls are hate crimes “can definitely be a challenge.” He pointed to the Central Park incident as an obvious example of a racially motivated call.

“She knew exactly what she was doing,” Bonta said. “He was not harassing her. She was calling based on race.”

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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

EPD Arrests Suspected Bank Robber

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2020 at 11:23 AM

The suspected bank robber. - SUBMITTED
  • submitted
  • The suspected bank robber.
Eureka police detectives arrested Stephen David Long, 70, of Eureka, this morning on suspicion of having committed yesterday's bank robbery on Fifth Street.

Long, who EPD said was identified as the suspect, was taken into custody without incident. Yesterday, EPD announced that a male suspect appearing in his 50s or 60s, wearing a blue surgical mask and jean jacket, had robbed the bank by handing a note to the teller before making off with an undisclosed amount of cash. He did not brandish a weapon and EPD offered no indication he was believed to be armed at the time.

For more information, see EPD's full press release here.

Can't see the PDF in mobile view? Try desktop view.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

EPD Investigating Eureka Bank Robbery

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2020 at 5:51 PM

The suspected bank robber. - SUBMITTED
  • submitted
  • The suspected bank robber.
The Eureka Police Department is investigating a bank robbery that occurred shortly before 4 p.m. today.

According to a press release, police believe a man entered a bank in the 700 block of Fifth Street, handed a note to the teller demanding money and made off on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash. According to the release, the suspect did not display any weapons during the robbery and was described as a white male in his 50s or 60s with salt and pepper hair. He was last seen wearing a blue surgical mask and a jean jacket.

Police ask anyone with information about the incident or the man's identity to call EPD at 441-4032.

See the full release from EPD below.


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Cal Fire Humboldt-Del Norte to Suspend Outdoor Vegetation Burning; Issues Warning Ahead of Fourth of July

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2020 at 1:15 PM

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Due to atmospheric conditions changing, Cal Fire Humboldt-Del Norte unit will be suspending outdoor vegetation burning in Humboldt, Del Norte and western Trinity counties.

Cal Fire would also like to remind residents to celebrate responsibly during the Fourth of July, as only fireworks with the "Safe and Sane" logo are legal for use in California. Local jurisdictions may have additional restrictions in place as well.

"CAL FIRE is warning the public of the state’s zero-tolerance regarding the use or sale of illegal fireworks. CAL FIRE is working closely with local law enforcement and firefighting agencies to seize illegal fireworks and prosecute those found in possession of them," an email from Cal Fire Battalion Chief Paul Savona states. 
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Monday, June 22, 2020

Suspect in Eureka Murder, Two Other Recent Stabbings Ruled Mentally Incompetent to Stand Trial, LoCo Reports

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2020 at 6:39 PM

A person of interest in a homicide on Campton Road has been arrested on unrelated charges. - EPD
  • EPD
  • A person of interest in a homicide on Campton Road has been arrested on unrelated charges.
The Lost Coast Outpost is reporting that Wesley Lee Starritt, who is accused of killing an elderly Eureka man and brutally stabbing two other people, has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial.

According to the story, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Timothy Canning, referred Starritt to the state agency Conrep after receiving a doctor’s report stating Starritt is incompetent.

Read the full story here
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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

HSU Independent Review of UPD 'Uncovered Organizational Issues' Within the Department

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2020 at 7:20 PM

The Office of Independent Review group completed its independent review of the University Police Department and allegations against then Chief of Police Donn Peterson and Lt. Melissa Hansen and found "there were broader problems within the department that need to be addressed," including communication and leadership at all levels, internal division, and organizational dysfunction."

Last October, UPD officers cast a "vote of no confidence" toward Peterson, which is a public statement of dissatisfaction with the chief.

UPD officers also accused Peterson of violating labor laws, manipulating crime statistics, excessive absenteeism as well as creating a hostile work environment, including making racist remarks.

The review found that the allegation of manipulating crime statistics didn't occur, "... We concluded that the allegation of manipulation of crime statistics was unfounded, meaning that the information we gathered during our investigation indicated that the alleged act did not occur," the report states.

As to the allegation of making racist remarks, the OIR found the allegations to be “not sustained.”

According to the report, "A 'not sustained' finding does not mean the allegations were false; it means that there was insufficient corroborative evidence to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the allegations of misconduct occurred. In other words, a 'not sustained' finding means that the investigation disclosed insufficient evidence to either sustain the complaint or fully exonerate the employee."

“I see this as an important time and opportunity,” Vice President for Administration and Finance Doug Dawes, whose areas of responsibility include the police department, said in a release. “We strive for constant improvement in every process and effort on campus, and the OIR Group uncovered organizational issues within the University Police Department that very much need attention.”

Read the full press release and report below.
HSU Commits to Broad Review and Changes in Police Department

An extensive review of alleged misconduct within the University Police Department has been completed by an outside investigative group, the OIR Group (Office of Independent Review), which concluded that one alleged act did not occur while others lacked sufficient corroborative evidence and were “not sustained.”

At the same time, the OIR Group concluded there were broader problems within the department that need to be addressed. These include communication and leadership at all levels, internal division, and organizational dysfunction.

Based on the findings, the University will be undertaking an effort to address the issues and make improvements. This will be guided by additional outside review as well as leadership from Interim Police Chief Christina Lofthouse. It will take into account recent calls for changes in police practices that are being made across the country, and include implementation of the recommendations of The President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, reported to President Barack Obama in May 2015. (See: Pledge from CSU Police Chiefs)

“I see this as an important time and opportunity,” said Vice President for Administration and Finance Doug Dawes, whose areas of responsibility include the police department. “We strive for constant improvement in every process and effort on campus, and the OIR Group uncovered organizational issues within the University Police Department that very much need attention.”

The OIR Group’s investigation involved more than 35 hours of interviews on campus, including every member of the University Police Department. They also conducted reviews of documentary evidence.

In the summary of their findings, OIR Group concluded: “While we found that the UPD generally provides effective public safety services to its academic community, interpersonal conflict and poor communication has created dysfunction from within. Our reporting to the University provided insight into the underpinnings of that conflict so that University leadership could use available tools to remediate and repair that divide and facilitate a climate of effective communication and respect.”

The University contracted with OIR Group following serious allegations about the former Police Chief Donn Peterson and Lieutenant Melissa Hansen, by members of the police department. OIR was asked to look at the allegations as well as any related complaints and matters. While the alleged acts were determined to have either not occurred or to have lacked sufficient corroborative evidence, the months-long process revealed the larger issues that the University is now seeking to address.

“This review has been very revealing and speaks to several areas, at all levels and by all officers, that warrant significant action,” said HSU President Tom Jackson, Jr. “It’s vital that we understand any issues in our police department. I’ve been very clear that I expect to see immediate and clear steps taken to begin resolving these issues."

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CHP Investigating A Vehicle That Nearly Collided with Pedestrians During Last Week's BLM Protest in McKinleyville

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2020 at 3:25 PM

Several hundred protesters marched from an empty lot at the corner of Central Avenue and Pickett Road in McKinleyville to Pierson Park Thursday afternoon. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Several hundred protesters marched from an empty lot at the corner of Central Avenue and Pickett Road in McKinleyville to Pierson Park Thursday afternoon.
The Humboldt Area California Highway Patrol is asking the public with information about a silver Hon da Pilot that nearly collided with protesters during last week's "Stand Against Racism and Police Brutality" protest to contact them as the agency is investigating the incident.

According to a release, a video showed a silver Honda Pilot traveling through the intersection of Central Avenue and Picket Road near Pierson Park almost colliding with pedestrians within the intersection.

CHP began an in-depth investigation and have made contact with multiple witnesses, obtained a posted video of the incident, identified the vehicle and contacted the driver.

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HCDTF Arrests Suspect Who Already Has 13 Pending Cases

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2020 at 1:53 PM

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After weeks of surveillance, the Humboldt County Drug Task Force and the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office arrested Casey O'Leary Menanno on suspicion of possessing narcotics for sale. Meananno had already been alrady arrested three times this year and has 13 other pending cases from local law enforcement agencies where he's suspected "in weapons, narcotics and theft-related offenses."

According to the release,  HCDTF agents received information that Menanno was allegedly "trafficking narcotics throughout Humboldt County" through his motel room.

Agents searched his hotel room and reported finding two pounds of suspected heroin packaged for sales, one ounce of suspected methamphetamine, digital scales, over $100,000, other drug paraphernalia and suspected stolen property, including a handgun.

Agents secured a warrant for a storage unit under Menanno's name, they reported locating additional suspected items inside, including 11 firearms, "four of which were confirmed stolen."

Menanno was arrested on suspicion of possession of narcotics for sales, possession of narcotics while armed, burglary, possession of stolen property, being a felon in possession of a firearm and committing a felony while on bail.

"If you are a theft victim and want to claim your property, contact the Humboldt County Drug Task Force at 707-267-9976, and arrangements can be made for the return of your property, pending the approval of a Humboldt County Superior Court magistrate," the release states.

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Hit and Run on Avenue of the Giants, CHP Asking for Help Identifying Driver

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2020 at 1:05 PM

chp.jpg
The California Highway Patrol in Garberville is asking for the public's assistance in identifying the driver of a 2011 GMC pickup that crashed into a car and a power pole and later fled the scene.

According to the report, around 2 a.m. a 2011 GMC pick up truck that was traveling north on Avenue of the Giants near Myers Ave. collided with a 2015 Subaru Forster and then overturned and collided with a power pole.

The Subaru was occupied by Paul Schmollinger and Saundra Stephenson who were both transported to Jerold Phelps Hospital for minor injuries.

If you have information please contact the Garberville Area office, Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at 923-2155 or after hours at 268-2000.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

PG&E Pleads Guilty to 85 Counts of Involuntary manslaughter, agrees to pay $25.5B to Camp Fire Victims, T-S Reports

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 3:17 PM

The Times-Standard is reporting that PG&E has pleaded guilty to 85 counts of involuntary manslaughter and has agreed to pay $25.5 billion to Camp Fire victims.

Read the full story here
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